4 slices bacon — cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 leeks — white and light green portions, rinsed and finely chopped
3 celery stalks — cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
2 russet potatoes — peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 garlic cloves — minced
1 can diced tomatoes — (28 oz.) with juices
2 cans clams — minced (each 6 1/2 oz.) juices drained and reserved
Salt and freshly ground pepper — to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley — finely chopped
Chowder crackers for serving (optional)
In a soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until browned but not crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the leeks, celery and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and nicely coated, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes with their juices, 3 cups water and the reserved clam juices, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Using a handheld or stand blender, coarsely puree the soup, leaving some texture. Add the clams, season with salt and pepper, and add the lemon juice. Return the soup to medium-low heat and cook gently until the clams are heated through, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the parsley and stir to combine.
Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls, top with the crackers and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.